The End of Jeb
FlaglerLive | February 21, 2016
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush had the money. He had support from large parts of the Republican establishment. And he had a golden name in GOP politics.
But none of it seemed to matter.
After another lackluster finish Saturday in the South Carolina Republican primary, Bush announced he was halting his presidential campaign. Bush made the televised announcement with his wife, Columba, at his side.
“I’m proud of the campaign that we’ve run to unify our country and to advocate conservative solutions that would give more Americans the opportunity to rise up and reach their God-given potential,” Bush said, appearing emotional. “But the people of Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina have spoken, and I really respect their decision, so tonight I am suspending my campaign.”
The announcement ended the possibility of Bush following his brother and father into the White House and left five Republicans — including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a former Bush protege — in the race.
Rubio later said he has “incredible affection and admiration” for Bush and the Bush family.
“He was the greatest governor in the history of Florida, and I believe and I pray that his service to our country has not yet ended,” Rubio said.
While the favorite of many Republican insiders and fund-raisers, Bush could never appear to get his footing in a race that has been largely dominated by the outsider Donald Trump. That showed again Saturday, with Trump easily winning the South Carolina primary after also winning in New Hampshire.
Bush announced the campaign suspension as results showed him winning less than 10 percent of the vote in South Carolina and trailing Trump, Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Trump repeatedly took shots at Bush during the campaign, including describing the former governor as “low energy” — a description that got widespread attention.
Bush was elected governor in 1998 and was a dominating presence during his two terms in Tallahassee, earning a reputation as something of a policy wonk. In his speech Saturday night, Bush defended his policy-driven approach to the noisy presidential campaign.
“In this campaign, I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds,” Bush said. “We put forward detailed, innovative, conservative plans to address the mounting challenges that we face, because despite what you might have heard, ideas matter, policy matters, and I truly hope that these ideas that we’ve laid out will serve as a blueprint for a generation of conservative leaders at every level of government so that we can take back our country.”
Rubio, who was in a battle Saturday night with Cruz for second place in South Carolina, tried to cast the campaign after Bush’s exit as a three-candidate race that includes Rubio, Cruz and Trump. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and physician Ben Carson also remain in the race.
“After tonight, this has become a three-person race, and we will win the nomination,” Rubio said.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida